Real Housewives, More Problems

Kandi, NeNe, Lisa, Kim, and Sheree

You’d think from the opening credits that Real Housewives of Atlanta was a show about some of the most successful women in the country.

  • NeNe Leakes: “I don’t keep up with the Joneses, I am the Joneses.”
  • Lisa Wu-Hartwell: “If it doesn’t make me money, I don’t do it.”
  • Sheree Whitfield: “People are intimidated by my success.”
  • Kandi Burruss: “I’m an independent woman, doing it for myself.”
  • Kim Zolciak: “In Atlanta, money and class do give you power.”

Bravo’s Real Housewives series have always revolved around wealthy women leading the good life in exclusive subdivisions. The implication of “housewives” is of course that their husbands’ earnings fund their white wine lifestyle. However, at this point it’s practically requisite for each woman to pursue either a charitable or profitable endeavor over the course of a season. The finale tends to hinge on the drama of whether an event that promotes one of these endeavors will succeed.

But everything the Atlanta housewives try seems destined for failure:


Love that NeNe!NeNe (my favorite), started a foundation to help victims of domestic violence in Season 1, and even worked on a book about the subject with Lisa. But that book is nowhere to be found on Amazon, and Twisted Hearts doesn’t even have a website. She and her husband were also evicted from her home last year. (She did just publish a memoir, though.)




Wu!Lisa always seems like the savviest of the bunch. She co-owns a real estate firm and runs three fashion design companies. But all of her businesses (Wu-Girl Designs, Hart2Hart Baby, and Closet Freak) are suspiciously absent from the web, and one of her homes was foreclosed on in August.




Who gon' check me, boo?Sheree seems to have gotten her idea of how wealthy women behave by watching Dynasty. Aside from being rude to the help and talking to her trainer about how hot she is, you don’t get the sense that she interracts much with the outside world. While the season ended with a successful fashion show for Sheree’s clothing line, She by Sheree (btw, she doesn’t sketch or sew) , the website features photographs of her but no actual products.



Super SweetKandi is actually a very talented singer and songwriter, with the Grammys to prove it. But her new album B.L.O.G., supposedly due to release on November 10, is nonexistent on Amazon and iTunes. The delay could be due to the untimely passing of her ex-fiance, but it still seems like the publicity from the show would have given her a boost. It certainly worked for housewives of the other cities.



Choo Choo!Kim is the biggest trainwreck of all time, and she would be no matter what show she was on (in fact, she even crashed and burned on Are You Hot in 2003). I don’t recommend investing in her wig company.




Aside from their failed projects, information always seems to surface that makes one doubt whether the Atlanta housewives were ever that rich to begin with.

Is Bravo just giving the people what they want? The appeal for viewers has never been to watch wealthy people succeed and be happy, but to watch them think they’re better then us and then go act ridiculous. It’s just that in wealthier groups of housewives, the failures are always social. (Being too late to a party, getting too drunk at a party, chewing your friends out at a party, etc.) In Atlanta, the social drama is often overshadowed by the real-life financial woes of the cast

So, I just have to ask: Why are the black housewives the ones who can’t make their house payments?

Did the show’s producers pass over more successful Atlanta residents in favor of a cast that would be more volatile (meaning trashier), and then fabricate their wealth to justify the casting? Is there a racism of lowered expectations at play when it comes to black women’s success?

Or can we find inspiration in what they’ve overcome and applaud them for being daring entrepreneurs? After all, NeNe survived an abusive relationship and worked as a stripper to support her son. Lisa lost custody of her children to an abusive ex-husband. Sheree had a child at age 15.  All three of them keep working to achieve the life they want. (Well, Sheree doesn’t work so much as collect alimony and tell people what to do. But still.)

Even if Atlanta’s “real housewives” aren’t making it in the upper crust, I love some of them and love to hate others. It’s honestly one of my favorite shows. But I can’t help it – I want all the black housewives to be able to pay their bills too.

by Juliana Tringali
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4 Comments Have Been Posted


Kandi, as in the former member of Xscape, singer of "Don't Think I'm Not" and writer of "No Scrubs?" I was a big fan as a teen and had no idea she was on TV! Good for her.
Still, my reaction to most these profiles (specifically, the ones that end with "X was supposed to come out, but hasn't") is to wonder how <i>real</i> all this is anyway. Maybe it's cynical of me, but I immediately wonder whether some of those projects never existed, or have been delayed by the network to correspond with the next season.
I would be curious to know, Ms. Tringali, if you take most the "unscripted" content in reality TV shows at face value, question on a case-to-case basis or doubt until proven otherwise but consider it all a part of the entertainment product. If case-to-case is closest, which seems likely, then how do you differentiate besides via common sense?

I know, Kandi is awesome!

<p>I know, Kandi is awesome! </p><p>And yes, I'm sure there is a lot of plot control on all the <em>Real Housewives</em> series. I mean, they can't stand each other, yet they keep attending events together and interracting. The situations are almost definitely scripted, if not the dialog. (However, I enjoy reality TV more when I let myself believe it's really happening.)</p><p>Other Housewives' projects have actually been very successful in real life. Bethenny Frankel of <em>New York</em> (who I love) had a book on the New York Times Bestseller List this year. LuAnn de Lesseps' book was less successful, but it was published. Even crazy-face Ramona Singer has achieved her goal of shilling jewelry on QVC. The <em>Orange County</em> and <em>New Jersey</em> housewives are less creative, but do manage to make their mortgage payments.</p>

When it comes to Fashion

The show doesn’t only emphasizes the lives of these women as wives, but it also gives idea on how do these housewives still looking good though they’re getting old. The show is quite similar to Project Runway show. A recent episode of Project Runway was interesting, in that Season 6 Episode 9 had a Location theme, and designers had to create an outfit based on a location. The Project Runway designers picked a plethora of locales, including Aspen, CO, Hollywood, CA (which is really boring when you think about it) and Caribbean locations. (Again, not too imaginative – good fashion inspired by Nome, Alaska is a REAL challenge.) Irina won, Nicholas was sent home as the disgrace that he is, and fun was had by all. Every now and again, some of the clothes created on Project Runway would be worth <a
rev="vote for" title="Project Runway’ Season 6, Episode 9" href=" ">quick cash</a>, but I don't know about Episode 9's entries.


I have to agree with the point that was expressed at the end of this article. I do believe that thier were more sucessfull black woman that lived in Atlanta that were passed over. Out of all of the series, the one that featured African American woman had drama, and woman with no real careers..They painted us as being woman that over spend out of our means, and have to real career, just aimless businesses that dont do anything major. In all of the other variations of the show, the woman have well established businesses that have been making major money for years. Some were even rich prior to becoming married. I find it interesting that this standard was changed once we come into a "black" area..Shree says in her opeinging of the show that woman are intimidated by her success....What success?? The success of marring into money?? Because that is the only reason why she lives the way she does. I can honestly say that NONE of these housewives are capable of sustaining thier lifestlyle without thier mate. Its sad but true. I am going to say that thier ARE some woman besides Oprah that are successful. MAybe one day we will have a show to properly depict that...

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